Native American first grader is taken from her foster family because she is 1.5% Choctaw.
In a sad but apparently lawful move by social workers in Santa Clarita on Sunday, a 6-year-old girl was taken away from her foster parents who have raised her since she was 17 months old because they are white and she is 1.5% Choctaw Native American.
Lexi, the 6-year-old with minimal Native American blood running through her veins, was seen sobbing while her foster dad held her and allegedly said to him, “Don’t let them take me, I’m scared,” as social workers removed her from the only family she had ever known and placed her in the back of the car. Lexi is 1.5% Choctaw Native American, which was passed from her biological dad’s side and was taken away from her foster family under the Indian Child Welfare Act. The law, which was enacted in the 1970’s, was originally passed by Congress in order to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families.” The law gives tribes and Indian parents or custodians a certain authority over the foster or adoptive placement of their Indian child.
In Lexi’s case, she was originally placed in foster care because her biological mother, who had a history of substance abuse problems, disappeared shortly after her birth and her biological father was arrested when Lexi was one year old for grand theft auto and selling stolen auto parts. She was placed in two other foster homes before being placed with the Pages, a family that says they loved her from the very beginning. The Page family has been trying to adopt her for the last 2 years with no success.
According to Indian Country Today Media Network, Lexi’s biological father has been fighting to regain custody of his daughter ever since he was released from jail in 2011. His rights as a father have not yet been terminated but he claims that all of the legal procedures he followed through with did not get him any closer to regaining custody and he felt compelled to take more drastic legal measures.
Lexi is going to be placed with extended family members of her biological father in Utah, who are currently raising Lexi’s sister, with another one of her sisters living down the street. The couple is not Native American nor are they living on a reservation, but they are related by marriage to the father.
The Page Family has sought legal counsel and their defense team plans to try to overturn the decision by stating that it is unconstitutional to use race-based placement preferences. The original point of ICWA was to protect Indian children and keep them with their families and tribes. If the Page family had been Native American, they would have been allowed to have some say in her placement since they are her foster parents, but since they are white they are forced to take the case to court after having Lexi taken from them. Although the origins of the ICWA seem genuine and may even continue to help Native American children and families today, this may be an overreach of power as the government is choosing to protect the partially Native American father over the interests of this girl.
In an emotional moment for the family and protestors, who spent the night on the driveway and lawn and demanded that the federal government #KeepLexiHome, workers from the Department of Children and Family Services arrived to take Lexi. Lexi’s foster mom ran onto the driveway with her other three children who were crying and said “I love you Lexi!” Protestors yelled, “They’re fighting, Lexi! They want you Lexi, they love you!” to assure the girl that her foster parents are not willingly giving her up.
The Choctaw Nation released a statement regarding the girl’s case and claimed that, “The Pages were always aware that the goal was to place Lexi with her family, and her permanent placement has been delayed due to the Pages’ opposition to the Indian Child Welfare Act.” This case seems to have many working parts, but ultimately it seems that Lexi is being hurt in the legal battle created by a law that is supposed to protect her.
Do you think that the state and biological father are within their rights? Is the government overreaching and ultimately harming Lexi by taking her away from her first full-time family? Comment your thoughts below and share this article!
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